In the end, we really shouldn’t have doubted him.
For most of the season regular watchers of the biathlon have really struggled with what to make of the form of Norwegian superstar Johannes Thingnes Boe.
The 2020-21 overall World Cup winner took until December to win a race and right from the get-go he looked a long way off his usual, dominating self.
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That led to plenty of speculation coming into Beijing. Was he simply biding his time for the Olympics? Was he struggling to adjust to new wax on the skis following a change in regulation from the International Biathlon Union? Or was he simply out of form?
We may never know what was really going on with Boe but we do know one thing for certain.
He’s back.
Or at least pretty close to being back after a dominant final sprint saw Boe launch himself and Norway from third place up into the gold medal position, beating out France and the Russian Olympic Committee in the mixed relay.
It was a masterful performance from Boe, who had some work to do after some of his team-mates, noticeably Tiril Eckhoff, struggled to get to grips with the windy conditions.
“It’s biathlon at its best, really exciting,” said biathlon legend and five-time Olympic gold medal winner Martin Fourcade in the Eurosport Cube.
We had a wonderful last leg with all the best teams
“We thought at the beginning that it would be a bit of a lottery but in the end it was a magnificent biathlon competition and the best team won, so congratulations Norway!”
This was the Boe of old, the one for whom no distance is too far, nor too improbable. Fans and athletes alike have gotten accustomed to the looming 6”2 figure of Boe relentlessly chasing down leaders and snatching victories from the jaws of defeat.

'Biathlon at its best!' - Fourcade reacts to Norway's thrilling win

The formbook was against him, however, with this season’s World Cup leader Quentin Fillon Maillet leading the way for France going into the final stages. Even Fourcade, who has witnessed the sheer force of will of Boe first-hand, admitted he was surprised.
“I mean I was on the tour and I didn’t expect him to catch Quentin but he finally did it, what a finish, he was really strong,” Fourcade told Radzi Chinyanganya in the Cube.
“We know that Johannes is more powerful than Quentin in the last point but today he was simply impressive.”
Eurosport expert Mike Dixon, himself a former Olympic biathlete for Great Britain, has speculated throughout the season that Boe’s form has been the root of his struggles and has never subscribed to the theory that he was holding himself back for Beijing.
But speaking to after the race was over Dixon, who commentates on the biathlon for Eurosport, was hugely impressed, saying: “He [Boe] was magnificent today, and almost back to his best!”
In what might be a marker for the rest of the competitions the conditions played a huge role in proceedings and Fourcade believes that the management of said conditions was the key to the win.
“It was windy, some teams had big troubles in the first leg. I think about Anais Chevalier-Bouchet from Team France with one penalty, Tiril Eckhoff from Norway with three penalty loops, also Germany was out of the competition really early because of the wind.

Norway's team (L-R) Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tiril Eckhoff and Tarjei Boe celebrate their first place in the podium during the medal ceremony in the Biathlon Mixed Relay 4x6km (W+M) event o

Image credit: Getty Images

“Success today was about being able to manage the windy conditions. We had a wonderful competition today with an exciting finale.”
Boe himself was thrilled with his own performance telling Eurosport Norway "You get moved and happy," when asked about how it felt to bring home the win for his country.
"I felt kind of animalistic. I was in a fighting spirit, and felt from the start that today is a good day. In my head, it was all about getting forward.
"I felt after the last shooting that I had a good chance of beating them in the last sprint, because I was feeling so strong.
"We all knew on the last shooting that we were shooting for the medals or the boring 4th place. I was quite nervous during that shooting. I could either be a hero or a loser. That was quite exciting."
It was a terrific advertisement for biathlon and a great way to drum up as much interest as possible for the upcoming individual events.
Boe will now be the favourite to add at least one, and possibly more, gold medals and the pressure will be on Fillon Maillet to back up his form from this season and respond to the challenge.
It may also open the door for other competitors who may feel that there is a real opportunity with Boe and Fillon Maillet taking lumps out of each other.
Either way it should be absolutely fascinating to watch. Next up is the women’s 15km individual on Monday before Boe returns to the snow for the men’s 20km individual on Tuesday. Don’t miss it.
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